Deconstructing Resistance: from art to science

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This is a research project that arose from an arts project, and is investigating a novel  antibiotic which is active against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The white growth is MRSA and in the middle the antibiotic and zone of inhibition generated by its activity against MRSA. Very early days but an example of how art can inform science.

Baker’s Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae

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The ultimate utility microbe. Bread-making, wine making and brewing.

Viewed here with DIC Microscopy at various magnifications

A New Typeface: BioSerif/BioGlyphs

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Here microorganisms either in their natural environments, or in cluture, have been invited to interact with paper containing printed text in the form of  words, prose or poems. In the images above, and at 100-times magnification,  their interactions become apparent, as the infusoria have inflitrated the paper and text. In doing so, these minute life forms add their own inimitable character to the writings, decorating the letters with beautful but usually invisible designs. I also like the way that the letters impose a sense of size upon the microorganisms.

For My Valentine: the cellular rose

A red rose at 100x magnification.

A red rose at 100x magnification.

A red rose for my valentine, first observed at 100-times magnification.The pigment that gives the rose its colour obscures the cellular detail and biological reality of the bloom.

To reveal the cells that made up the flower, I added an agent that  caused the pigment to leach out of the cells so that their structure would be revealed.

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The images above, at 100x magnification of a red rose petal, being cleared of their red pigment and gradually revealing the flowers cellular pigment.

 

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The image above is the red pigment from the rose petals, after it has drained out the cells.

Finally, to make my Valentine’s Rose truly unique, I Bio-Hacked it with an agent that I invented called Alchyme. This fluid slowly infiltrates the tissue, and cells, of the rose petal, and subtly alters the chemistry of the natural red pigment that is present, converting  it into different coloured forms (yellow, green, blue, purple), and creating the unique Rainbow Rose.

 

The Narratives of Dust: plastic microfibres

“There shall be in that rich dust a richer dust concealed”

Where it is left to settle and left undisturbed, dust will form an informative, yet fragile grey stratum. If they avoid the gaze of the avid cleaner, these deposits can be ancient and being made mostly of shed human skin, animal dander, and fabric microfibres, a layer of dust, like sedimentary rock, can hold a fragile record of life, passage and occupation. Here I have collected a small sample of dust from an area less than the size of a quarter of a 5 pence piece, in a corridor. Under the microscope, at 100x-magnification, the grey looking dust is revealed to be a  mixture of human skin keratinocytes and also vast mats of plain, and coloured,  synthetic  fabric microfibres, that can only have come from clothing. To find all this in a tiny speck of dust is striking, but also deeply disturbing in the context of the amount of this material that we leak into the natural environment.

The Microbial Oil Lamp: introducing Botryococcus braunii

Botryococcus braunii is a pyramid shaped microalga that offers great potential in the field of biotechnology, and as a renewable source of hydrocarbons and other chemicals. It’s notable for its ability to produce high amounts of hydrocarbons, especially oils that can be produced at around 30-40 percent of its dry weight.

My plan is to use this alga to produce oil for a Microbial Oil Lamp, to demonstrate its remarkable properties.

This project is at a very early stage but these are videos are of it in an intact form, and then of it crushed, where the oil it produces can be clearly seen as droplets.

ChemoGenic Designs

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I’m fascinated by the creativity,  inherent in nature and chemistry, and in releasing this to generate autogenic art works. In the past,  I’ve  explored this using pigmented bacteria and there interactions with each other to generate  a series of unique textile designs. Here’s a variation of this process, where a liquid chemical solution has been added to a textile and as the solution dries out, and the solute begins to precipitate out, unique autogenic designs are generated by its ordered crystallisation.